Change of Plan for rapper as English musician turns director for gritty movie
English chart-topping rapper Plan B has turned his talents to the big screen, with the release this week of his directorial debut 'iLL Manors'.
Plan B, real name Ben Drew, has been moving away from music into film for some time. In between releasing his critically acclaimed soul album ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks’ the 28-year-old has enjoyed roles in ‘Adulthood’, ‘220.127.116.11’ and ‘Harry Brown’. He’s also set to star alongside Ray Winstone in a big-screen version of cult 1970s TV cop show ‘The Sweeney’.
For someone dubbed ‘the mouthpiece of his generation’, just acting was not enough. Drew is proud of the work he put into ‘iLL Manors’.
Accompanied by an album soundtrack of the same name, the movie is a hard-hitting thriller based on a collection of real-life events and the experiences of the singer and his friends in east London.
He says: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. That was because I didn’t have the financial support I needed, and people doubt you, so you have to deal with that. It’s pretty tough.
“The majority of the white population in this country don’t even believe this environment or these people (in the film) actually exist - they think it’s just an exaggeration but it’s not.
“There’s no way I can fictionalise that. I’m not sitting there dreaming stuff up to make a film I can make money from.”
The musician grew up in and around London’s Forest Gate. He attended Tunmarsh Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in Plaistow after being kicked out of school at the age of 16 and is seen by many to be in a perfect position to confront society with some of life’s tough realities.
He hopes his movie will also get some strong messages across. Drew explains: “I want teens and young adults to learn that messing with guns and being in gangs ain’t cool - I know it’s hard because it’s easy to get sucked in. I want my movie and music to help kids like me, who have been forgotten about and laughed at.
“I genuinely want to change things and I feel like this is just the first step. I am an angry white rapper but I’m not just that. People think I don’t care, but I do.
“There are so many insincere people pretending to care about things so they can make money out of it, so I forgive people for being cynical about my motives.”
Drew believes the film is the perfect vehicle for his new tunes too. He’s scored the entire movie and he says: “I didn’t do this as a one-off, I want to make films and be a director. My hip-hop music is not really for commercial radio so I felt like if I had a different kind of medium, I don’t have to water it down or compromise.
“I thought film would be the perfect place.”